In recent days, there has been quite a buzz around the crisis faced by MBA Chai Wala, the most renowned chai wala in India. News is surfacing that the outlets of the franchise are not making enough money and the owners are facing financial difficulties. All this news is leading to a lot of noise on social media and raising eyebrows about the situation. As a result, the MBA Chai Wala is now facing the risk of losing its hard-earned reputation, recognition, and customer base.
In such situations, the most critical role that emerges is that of public relations (PR). PR professionals are the ones responsible for ideating, developing, and executing the communication strategies that can help a business build, maintain, and protect its brand image in case of a crisis.
So, to better understand the role of PR in handling a crisis situation, we at StartupTalky asked the PR professionals to share their insights about how they would handle a situation like that of MBA Chai Wala and what action steps they would take to neutralize the effect and continue to grow their business.
In this article, we will share the crisis management strategies suggested by two PR experts: Tanusree Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of BRANCON Communication, and Cyrus Jogina, Senior Vice President, Technology and Start-Ups, Concept PR India Ltd.
What is the MBA Chai Wala Controversy?
The MBA Chai Wala controversy revolves around many franchise owners making allegations against Prafull Billore, the company's founder. The allegations suggest that people paid large sums of money for franchises that were not profitable and were given false promises of support from the company. This has led to financial losses among the franchise owners and a negative perception of the company and its founder on social media and among customers. As a result, the company's reputation is being affected, and many are calling for transparency and accountability from the company.
Cyrus Jogina's Ideas on Handling the MBA Chai Wala Crisis
As a PR professional, Mr. Jogina suggested a two-pronged approach during such a crisis. When it is over, there will be a different communication strategy for post-crisis.
First: Face With Brevity and Engage With Media:
- Issue a general holding statement to clarify the client's stand.
- Organize a select media briefing to share the client's point of view and state the facts. The client should not hide from the media. If the client is at fault, state that they are looking into it and will resolve the issue amicably. Emphasize on the fact that they hold and value their franchisees in high esteem and would never let them down. As a team, they grow together (that’s their franchisees, customers, and the client).
- Initiate a social media campaign featuring client video interviews and uploading them on client's platforms. The client should not engage with social media creators who are passing nasty comments, instead, they should ignore them. Similar to the media briefing, organize a select meeting with influencers and share the client's point of view.
- Gather customer testimonials to demonstrate support for the client.
- Try talking to the franchisees who have been affected, resolve amicably with a commitment, and hold a joint media briefing to share that the client has resolved the issue amicably and there is no bad blood.
- Create industry debates:
- Do social media influencers have the license to defame brands without doing thorough background checks?
- Are social media influencers the new judiciary?
Second: Business as Usual:
- Continue doing business and engage PR to share positive stories.
- Change the focus of the audience from crisis to client service.
- Create marketing campaigns to engage more audiences and initiate UGC.
- Soft profiling of the spokesperson to bring out the humane side of him.
- Engage in industry stories on different topics like:
- Breaking the shackles of traditional forms of marketing
- What’s the secret sauce for turning a mundane business into a global business success?
- Is the brand franchisee's road to success or otherwise?
Tanusree Gupta's Ideas on Handling the MBA Chai Wala Crisis
As a PR professional, successfully handling a crisis requires a proactive and strategic approach that prioritizes transparency, authenticity, and responsiveness, says Tanusree Gupta.
Tanusree has recommended a set of steps that can help MBA Chai Wala overcome the current crisis and ensure the continued growth of its business:
- Conduct a thorough analysis of the situation: The first step would be to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation to understand the root cause of the issue and the extent of the damage it has caused.
- Develop a crisis communication plan: Based on the analysis, the organization should develop a crisis communication plan that outlines the key messages they want to communicate, the channels they would use to reach their target audience, and the timeline for executing the plan.
- Issue a public statement: Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to issue a public statement that acknowledges the issue and conveys the steps that are being taken to address it.
- Engage with the Franchise owner: It's important to engage with the Franchise owner by responding promptly and transparently to their questions and concerns. It is also important to proactively seek out opportunities to engage with the franchise owners to rebuild trust and credibility.
- Collaborate with relevant stakeholders: It may be beneficial to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, such as industry experts or thought leaders, to provide additional perspective on the issue and demonstrate a commitment to finding a solution.
- Use social media effectively: Social media can be a powerful tool for crisis communication. Social media can be used to provide regular updates, respond to comments and questions, and share relevant information and resources.
- Evaluate and adjust the crisis communication plan: Regularly evaluate and adjust the crisis communication plan based on feedback and results to ensure it continues to be effective in addressing the issue and achieving the desired outcomes.
Overall, successfully handling a crisis requires a proactive and strategic approach that prioritizes transparency, authenticity, and responsiveness.
Facing a crisis like the MBA Chai Wala can be intimidating for any business. However, with the right steps and strategies in place, it is possible to overcome the crisis and continue to grow. Taking responsibility, communicating effectively, and showing a commitment to resolving any issues can go a long way in rebuilding trust and restoring the reputation of the business. By simply staying true to values and working closely with the team and customers, businesses are sure to emerge stronger and more resilient in a crisis situation.